We can’t deny it: In the past few years, a lot of us have become more passive when it comes to watching films. When the pandemic forced us to stay at home and watch movies, we all got used to just picking something on Netflix to play in the background while we endlessly scroll through our social media.
It’s high time to correct that behavior – and all you need is a good mystery film. After all, what could captivate and hold your attention more than a movie with an enormous and beaming question mark at the center? Whether it’s a conventional whodunnit, a psychological thriller, or a narrative that can’t be easily understood, a mystery is better than any other genre at stimulating our minds and eyes. The sequel to Knives Out, Glass Onion, will be released soon on the streaming service, but there are already many other mystery films available to watch right now.
1. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020)
Anyone who is a fan of Charlie Kaufman’s works understands that they are not meant to be deciphered. This is particularly evident in his third movie as a writer-director, a surreal drama about a young woman going to meet her partner’s family, which is more akin to the style of David Lynch than anything he has done in the past. Trying to make sense of the story’s complexities will only be a source of frustration. Instead, just give yourself to the experience, and it will be like a dream you can’t forget
2. Enola Holmes (2020)
Millie Bobby Brown showcased her star potential outside of Stranger Things in this charming young adult mystery, portraying the clever adolescent sister of Sherlock who turns out to have a knack for solving puzzles. A follow-up is in the works, and likely many more to come
Michele K Short
3. Lost Girls (2020)
Documentarian Liz Garbus’ film, Bobby Fischer Against the World, follows activist Mari Gilbert’s journey as she attempts to find out the truth behind her daughter’s suspicious death. Despite officials claiming it was due to drugs, evidence suggested otherwise and Mari’s relentless pursuit of the truth led to the discovery of numerous murders of sex workers on Long Island. Amy Ryan delivers an intense and genuine portrayal of Mari as she struggles to keep her composure while dealing with officers who are apathetic and uncaring. The emotion in the narrative is effectively emphasised by Garbus’ unem
4. I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore (2017)
For Yellowjackets fans who are interested in the work of Melanie Lynskey, this jet black comedy thriller is an excellent place to start. In the film, Lynskey plays a nursing assistant living in a rural area who has had enough after her house is burglarized. She teams up with her bizarre neighbor (Elijah Wood) to track down the thieves, who turn out to be more than just petty criminals. This sets off a series of misadventures, as well as some disturbing moments of violence.
5. Forgotten (2017)
This psychological thriller from South Korea, a prominent figure in this type of film, follows a young man who sees his brother abducted and after 19 days, he returns a changed person. The storyline is intricate, like that of Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy, but when watching the movie, the intensity pulls you in.
Remi Weekes’ captivating first feature film tells the story of a Sudanese couple in pursuit of asylum in the UK. They find themselves living in a dilapidated flat in the outskirts of London, where they face discrimination and oppressive government regulations, as well as a mysterious and potentially malevolent force. This movie contains
7. I Am All Girls (2021)
Films that claim to be ‘inspired by actual events’ often take a tiny truth and take it to extreme lengths. However, for this South African production which is about a detective teaming up with a serial killer to stop a child trafficking syndicate, the realism is almost too much. When the action-packed shootouts begin, it is almost a relief. Viewing this movie is brutal, yet necessary.
8. Shimmer Lake (2017)
Considering the ensemble of Oren Uziel’s first film, one might expect a parody of Wet Hot American Summer, with a squad of television comedians – Rainn Wilson, Rob Corddry, Adam Pally and more – playing around a rural setting. However, you get a combination of Memento and Coen Brothers instead. Uziel follows a small town sheriff’s inquiry into a failed bank robbery, which appears to be ordinary until the reverse-chronology narrative begins and the extraordinary cast start to show their stuff. It is perfect for a
9. Mirage (2018)
This Spanish sci-fi thriller is reminiscent of Poltergeist and a Halloween episode of The Simpsons, where Homer continually goes back in time, making changes in the present. The main character interacts with a deceased child through an old TV set, which creates a ripple effect, leading to her having to fix the time-space continuum in order to restore order. Best of luck to her!
10. The Perfection (2018)
In this horror film, Allison Williams and Logan Browning play competitive cellists and encounter both psychological and physical terror. It is full of unexpected turns as the story jumps from China to the music school where they studied. The ending is filled with surprises that you definitely do not want to have revealed beforehand.
11. Fear Street (2021)
This mostly unknown horror series, based on RL Stine’s other books, feels like it belongs in the same universe as Stranger Things – not just because Sadie Sink, who plays Max in Hawkins, Indiana, is featured in one of the movies. Following a group of youngsters, the trilogy takes place in different periods of time, as they try to figure out why their town is under a mysterious curse, and how to break it.
12. I Am Mother (2019)
This sci-fi Australian movie features a girl (Clara Rugaard) who was born to a robot whose mission is to repopulate the earth after a catastrophic event. When an unknown person appears near their shelter, it brings up questions about the nature of their pseudo-parental bond. It is essentially the same as if her
13. What Did Jack Do? (2017)
David Lynch is questioning a simian that has been accused of a homicide. What additional information is required?
Image: Shanna Besson/Netflix
14. Oxygen (2021)
If you thought the ending of The Vanishing was worth expanding into a full-length movie, then this science fiction thriller from French filmmaker Alexendre Aja is worth checking out. Melanie Laurent stars as a woman who wakes up in a cryogenic chamber with no recollection of how she got there and her oxygen levels are quickly dropping. She’s able to communicate with the outside world, but that doesn’t make her situation any less daunting. People who are prone to
15. The Call (2020)
This South Korean psychological thriller tells the story of two women living in different eras who are connected to a murderous criminal. As they talk over the phone, they are both forced to confront the pain of their past. This movie is not just about perplexing the audience, but also about exploring the effects of trauma over time.